One of our strongest commitments to you as MBV members, is the advocacy work we undertake on your behalf with the State and Federal Governments to ensure your concerns are heard and listened to and that our industry and your rights are protected.
As such, we have once again made a pre-Budget submission to the State Government as it contemplates funding priorities for the 2021-2022 Budget.
We recognise that the Government has acted upon our pre-Budget submission last year and our concerted campaign for strong stimulus measures for the building and construction industry to address the COVID-19 induced economic downturn.
Stimulus measures centred on encouraging building and construction activity were vital given the size of our industry’s continued contribution to Victoria’s economy, enabling our sector to lead the charge in Victoria’s economic recovery.
Despite contraction through the last 12 months, our industry remains Victoria’s largest full-time employer and contributes 45 per cent of the state’s tax revenue, with the housing sector alone generating $3 of economic activity for every $1 invested.
As such, measures like the provision of more social housing alongside cuts to stamp duty and the extension of the First Home Owner Grant announced in the last budget were all highly welcomed.
In this year’s submission, MBV has focused on measures that will sustain our much-needed economic recovery.
These include reducing regulatory burden and duplication, reforming planning rules to promote good urban densification, and promoting jobs and training in the building and construction industry.
Such measures will ensure our State’s economy will continue to thrive for the months and years ahead.
Our submission draws upon feedback from members and stakeholders across our industry and focuses on the following priority areas:
- Government policy and leadership
- Building and planning
- Jobs and training
- COVID-19 support
The introduction of MBV’s recommendations would ensure ease of doing business, enabling building activity that produces liveable and sustainable cities, and improve the provision of vocational education and training for our industry.
We look forward to the release of the 2021-2022 Victorian State Budget and policy outcomes that will achieve sustainability and viability for business, the economy, and our community.
Here’s a snapshot of our pre-budget submission:
Minimising red tape in doing business and addressing insurance gaps
It is important that the State Government displays policy leadership by focusing on measures that would allow businesses in the building and construction industry to lead Victoria’s economic recovery. This includes minimising red tape for businesses by avoiding the introduction of regulation that mirrors existing State or Federal regulation and addressing insurance gaps.
The availability of Public Indemnity (PI) insurance remains a problem for our industry and so we recommend that the State Government should direct the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) to provide capital for the underwriting of PI insurance as a temporary solution.
Ensure continuation of domestic and international supply chains
Members have identified shortages of key building materials as a key problem for our industry due to the growing housing demand. To address this, active engagement with domestic and international supply chains are required. Consideration should also be made towards providing grants for Australian businesses to diversify and produce critical building materials to strengthen Victoria’s supply chain and generating local jobs.
Remove foreign surcharges on stamp duty and increase thresholds for the First Home Buyer stamp duty exemption and concession
High-density dwellings like apartments are important in accommodating a growing population. However, the latest industry forecasts have shown an expected reduction in supply of high-density builds due to the COVID-19 induced reduction in foreign investment.
Reducing the increased stamp duty on foreign investment temporarily would attract much needed investment in this sector. In conjunction with this, should also be measures to increase home ownership for first home buyers. MBV recommends increasing the property value thresholds for the First Home Buyer stamp duty exemption and concession in line with the rise in median dwelling prices to aid in this.
Endorsement of the COVID-19 Contract Framework
MBV has proposed a solution for liquidated damages caused by delays from restrictions on building and construction work during 2020 because of COVID-19. The framework is known as the ‘COVID-19 Contract Framework’ and sets out a series of steps for parties to follow to reach outcomes that avoid adverse ramifications. The State Government endorsing this framework would allow its broad use across our industry.
Incentives for urban densification and prioritising ‘as-of-right’ codification in the development of planning rules
Good urban densification plays an important part in housing our State’s growing population. This means that high-density residential dwellings like apartments, secondary dwellings, and duplexes should be prioritised. Having councils set targets for the provision of greater supply options and rewarding good performance for doing so is therefore required.
Furthermore, there should be a greater expansion of the use of ‘as-of-right’ codified planning to fast-track planning approvals for non-contentious development like secondary dwellings and subdivisions to support urban densification. The introduction of a pilot program for a secondary dwellings code is a positive step and it is hoped that the success of the pilot program means the expansion of the secondary dwellings code into all planning schemes for use.
Ensuring land availability for development
While urban densification remains a key long-term policy goal, the current growing housing demand due to the strong economic recovery means adequate supply of land is needed to meet this. Reports of land shortages in regional Victoria has placed greater urgency for the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) to lead, develop and deliver a pipeline of state-led land releases across Victoria, with an initial focus on Wodonga, Geelong, Ballarat, and Bendigo.
Dollar for dollar matching of investment on energy efficient home renovations
This will generate activity in the renovations market while contributing to a reduction in energy usage and target low-income households who so far have been less likely to take up existing programs.
Fund a stakeholder driven consumer awareness campaign on careers in the building and construction industry
There should be funding towards a stakeholder driven consumer awareness campaign on careers across the building and construction industry. This campaign would showcase the opportunities that exist in the entire building and construction life cycle, including surveyors, engineers, architects, builders, and trades. It would also focus on areas of need, such as surveyors and engineers, as well as the gender imbalance in construction where female participation in our industry remains very low.
Introduce a funding program to assist building practitioners with the requirements of state registration
With the soon to be introduced mandatory registration of trades, funding should be allocated for industry bodies to assist building practitioners in meeting the requirements of registration. These requirements do not just relate to the training course requirements for registration, but also the preparation of assessments with the Victorian Building Authority and preparation of work history.
Expand the Construction Skill Set funding program
Further funding should be provided to expand and extend the Construction Skill Set Pilot Program to ensure individuals are trained in areas most in demand and allow pathways for those students to full qualifications over time. The use of skill sets is a flexible approach towards addressing skill shortages in our industry and because many of these units already form part of the full Certificate IV and Diploma qualifications, few additional regulatory auditing or oversight processes is required.
Extend scholarships for tradespeople to undertake training qualifications to teach in the non-TAFE sector
While funding was allocated in the previous Budget towards attracting and supporting people to reskill as TAFE teachers, such scholarships should be extended to allow teachers to also teach in the non-TAFE sector to ensure consistent delivery of quality training across the VET system. The focus should also be on providing scholarships to relevant tradespeople to ensure that the provision of VET is backed by strong industry knowledge.